Minjee Lee won the U.S. Women’s Open by four strokes over Mina Harigae at Pine Needles on Sunday to earn $1.8 million, the largest payout in the history of women’s golf.
Lee closed with an even-par 71 to finish at 13-under 271 after the Australian flirted with the tournament record of 16 under set by Juli Inkster in 1999 at Old Waverly.
“I mean, I’m speechless,” Lee said. “I can’t believe it right now. No, it’s just super, special, and a great honor. It’s been my dream since I was a little girl. It’s the one that I always wanted to win on; now I’ve done it, and it just feels amazing.”
Lee’s winnings came from a record $10 million purse.
“We’re only moving in the right direction,” Lee said. “I think it’s only going to get better and better from here. It’s such a large sum, and I’m really honored to be the first winner I guess of this sum. We’re only going to get better and better.”
Harigae shot a 72 for her best finish in a major and a check of slightly more than $1 million.
Although she knew she had no chance to win down the stretch, Harigae said it was still stressful knowing that $1 million — a check that is larger than the winner makes at most LPGA Tour events — was at stake. “I’m not going to lie, my stomach hurt the last couple of holes coming down the stretch,” Harigae said. “I was really stressed out, but I was really just focusing on one shot at a time, making solid contact, and just hitting good putts.”
South Korea’s Hye-Jin Choi was one of only two players to break par Sunday, carding a 70 to finish third at 7 under.
Webb won her second U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles in 2001 by eight shots.
Webb was at Philadelphia Cricket Club at a prearranged outing, charged up her phone until it was time to tee off, spent the day checking scores and then watched streaming the final three holes.
“So amazing. Just the way she played all week, she never looked like the moment was getting to her at all. I think she struggled a little bit at the start of last year with putting, and now it’s the best part of the game for her. If she keeps putting it like that, she’s got the whole package.”
Webb said she texted her during the week, not with any advice but simple phrases like “I love your work.”
Nelly Korda closed with a 73 on Sunday to tie for eighth at 2 under in her first tournament since undergoing surgery to repair a blood clot in her left arm.
“The first week back you have rust, right, so you don’t really expect much from your game,” said Korda, the world’s No. 2 player. “You don’t know where your game is at. Knowing that I can play on a really tough golf course at a major and even kind of be in contention is definitely a positive.”